RUN! (Week 12)

While reading the Paine Schofield and Joinson report, the term “survival of the fittest” came to mind.  It seems that rather than having to be fast enough to literally outrun bears and lions, we now need to worry more about the safety of our non-physical identities.  We must protect ourselves from theft of our time, money and ideas, along with voyeurism, forwarding of information detrimental to our professional lives, and personal attacks of any number of other types.  Those who manage to stay in control of their own privacy are those who are fast and smart enough to keep ahead of the “bad guys,” or those who just happen to luck out.

That’s me… the one on the right. Probably shopping.

My husband and I have a friend who will NOT make a purchase on the internet.  In the past, if something he wanted to buy was only available online, he would come to our house, I would order it online with a credit card or PayPal, and he would reimburse me on the spot.  I never thought anything of it – in fact, my husband and I both think he’s kind of silly for being so “paranoid.”  This friend has never had a bad experience with privacy or technology, but he is a generally untrusting person and really, this is probably a responsible way of thinking.  He is, perhaps, one of the “fittest.”

Our family, on the other hand, buys nearly everything online.  Santa Veach has been doing all of her shopping at Amazon.com and Walmart.com and a variety of super-fun specialty stores, having a grand old time flinging debit and credit card numbers left and right across the virtual abyss.  I don’t think twice about it.  We don’t hold anything back on our very active Facebook accounts, except for things that I obviously can’t share because of security concerns at work (not that my friends would care, anyway.)  Our son has had a Facebook account since he was six years old, as do many of his school friends, although they all use false birthdays in order to allow the registration.

We are ripe for becoming victims of some kind of privacy issue or identity theft, but even acknowledging this fact does not convince me or my husband to back off from being so open and “out there” online.  It is just too convenient to have whatever I buy show up on my doorstep, even though I’m giving out sensitive financial information with every transaction.  It’s too much fun for my husband to always check in wherever he is on Foursquare, letting everyone know he’s not home and giving them a rough estimate of how long he’ll be gone.  Our 9-year-old HAS to have a Facebook account because everybody else on Earth has one, and he wants to show everyone the picture of the fish he caught, even though he’s in the age group most susceptible to identity theft.  I suppose sacrificing our privacy is a price we are willing to pay for the benefits we receive from our technological adventures.

Posted on November 15, 2012, in Social Media, Society, Trust. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Laura,
    That’s an interesting situation with your friend. He’s unwilling to risk his own privacy or identity, but he’s okay with putting you at risk?

    An older relative of ours refuses to get internet access; he doesn’t want anything to do with it. However, he does sometimes ask family to send emails on his behalf and then report back with replies to him. He also is very appreciative of family members going online to buy airplane tickets for him, print boarding passes, reserve hotel rooms, and negotiate for an upgrade to a room assignment on a cruise.

    Anyway, maybe there’s some entertainment value in proctoring your friend’s online purchases. You can imagine the data crunchers in cybermart trying to figure out why you would be buying a subscription to Lowrider magazine when it totally goes against what someone with your purchase history should be interested in. Do you ever wonder what profile the analysts have written about your family to account for his buying?

  2. It’s true that we have to be careful about what information we disclose and to whom or what entity. Those who are cautious tend to fare the best. But it’s the “lucking out” part that I find a little scary–and completely true. Disclosing information online come with risk no matter how careful we are. Just like survival of the fittest, there’s always a bit of luck involved. We just have to do what we can and hope for the best.

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